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The characterisation of structure: definition versus axiomatisation index of names (2010)

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Title The characterisation of structure: definition versus axiomatisation index of names
Published in The Philosophy of Science in a European Perspective, Vol. 1, p.399-. ISBN 978-90-481-9114-7.
Author Muller, F.A.
Date 2010
Language English
Type Article
Publisher Springer
Abstract Crucial to structural realism is the Central Claim that entity B is or has structure S. We argue that neither the set-theoretical nor the category-theoretical conceptions of structure clarify the Claim in a way that serves the needs of structural realism. One of these needs is to have a viable account of reference, which almost any variety of realism needs. There is also a view of structure that can adopt both set-theoretical and category-theoretical conceptions of structure; this is the view that adopts B.C. van Fraassen’s extension of Nelson Goodman’s concept of representation-as from art to science. Yet the ensuing fountain of perspectives is a move away from realism, structural realism included. We then suggest that a new theory of structure is needed, one that takes the word ‘structure’ to express a primitive fundamental concept; the concept of structure should be axiomatised rather than defined in terms of other concepts. We sketch how such a theory can clarify the Central Claim in a manner that serves a descriptivist account of reference, and thereby structural realism.
Publication http://dspace.library.uu.nl/handle/1874/202128
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Persistent Identifier URN:NBN:NL:UI:10-1874-202128
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Repository Utrecht University

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